CSR activities are very much in vogue in the meetings industry, and for a multitude of good reasons, says Mary Craig, CMM, director of Balboa Travel’s Meeting & Event Solutions.
“First of all, everyone feels better for having made the world a better place by helping others.” Plus, the benefits go far beyond that. “Given the various goals and strategies, the activity and measuring ROI must be customized in each case,” she says. In addition to giving back to the host community, these events can provide great PR for the company, potential tax breaks and can bolster the employee/attendee morale that comes with being part of an organization that cares, not only about them, but about others.
Everyone Should Win
It’s not just those on the receiving end of an activity who benefit, she notes. Participants, hosts, sponsors and those working behind the scenes to support the event also experience ROI and ROE, gaining personally and often, on a business level.
Meaningful Team Building
Many companies are open to or automatically incorporate CSR events in conjunction with a main meeting or program, notes Craig. “It is often used for team building, replacing the typical beach Olympics, etc., with a more meaningful activity.” The best projects enable clients to creatively accomplish their internal team building objectives and give back to the community, while gaining great PR and overall return on investment for the company.
A Case in Point
The options for charitable activities with a ROI component are endless, says Craig. One of her favorites was a dental clinic for underprivileged kids held at major league ballpark. Kids from inner city boys’ and girls’ clubs were brought in for a fun day including baseball clinics, batting cages and games with local Major League baseball celebrities. In between activities, kids got a dental checkup and minor work done in a clinic set up in the baseball stadium’s suites. Dentists volunteered their time, equipment and supplies; conference participants served as the event staff, leading kids in games, serving hotdogs, assembling and giving out goody bags equipped with tooth brushes, dental care products, coloring books and baseball souvenirs.
Part of the pay-off for everyone was the ability to rub elbows with local baseball heroes. Attendees had meaningful interaction with the kids. Kids benefited from the dental care they would not have had and a lifetime memory of the day. The client had great PR exposure as the sponsor while reaping the benefits from their attendees’ experience.